Kobe Bryant has been my favorite NBA player for a long time but that doesn’t blind me to his faults . Over the years I’ve come to realize that there are two Kobes. There is the good Kobe — the one who works harder than anyone else, who keeps his nerve when everyone around him has given up , the fantastic finisherwho wins close games. Then there is the bad Kobe — arrogant , petty and I won’t go into his off-court issues. At thursday’s press conference we saw the bad Kobe at his worst. Asked about Jetemy Lin , he claimed not to know anything about him , saying ” Who the ( fudge) is Jeremy Lin ?”
Well , now he certainly knows!
Reading about Kobe’s Thursday interview , I thought to myself how nice it would be for him to get taken down a bit . I felt that Lin would acquit himself creditably and that the Lakers better watch out, playing as they were on successive nights. But in my wildest dreams , I never thought that Jeremy Lin would explode as he did for 38 points , 7 assists , 4 rebounds and 2 steals. He shot 13 for 23 from the field and 2 of 4 from beyond the arc. He penetrated and finished, shot well from the outside , fed his teammates for layups , played good defense and , for one night , he outplayed Kobe Bryant. As one fan put it :
Jeremy Lin … MVP …MVP… MVP ! Kobe Bryant … AARP,…AARP… AARP !
After the game , Lin was humble and lowkey and said all the right things . He was happy, very happy about his performance but deflected praise onto his teammates , mentioning Jared Jeffries and his offensive rebounding, and preferring to dwell on the fact that the Knicks won. It is still too early to proclaim him a star but , in these first four games as a starter, he has certainly played like one . In doing so , he has earned himself some job security and an extended look from the Knicks coaching staff. When the Knicks stars , Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire, return , Lin will have to change his game , take fewer shots and give up the ball more .His numbers are bound to go down but I feel he will be up to the challenge of keeping the big men happy.As has been remarked , he has the mentality of a true point guard. In many ways , he reminds me of a more physical John Stockton.
What the stats do not show is the electricity that Lin brings to the Garden. It is great to see how the fans have embraced him . Yesterday , there were plenty of them courtside , wearing Lin masks and cheering him on. I think they, like me , love seeing a kid finally make it after years of being under-appreciated. This is his payment for sticking to it , working at his game , enduring taunts of ” Go back to China ” and ” Duck Soup”.
I’m not going to change my allegiance to the Lakers. Once a Laker fan , always a Laker fan . But my new favorite player is … Jeremy Lin .
P.S Some fans are miffed at all the plaudits for Lin . One of them sniffed “I don’t have anything against Lin and I really enjoyed watching him play last night.I think he’s very humble and unselfish-good traits to have in any sport.But all this talk about him being “good” for basketball as if he’s an NBA savior is @#$%.Basketball has thrived before Lin came into the spotlight and will continue to thrive when his shine dims.The only people saying this is the people who are tired of seeing black players dominate the game like they have done for the past 30 plus years.” Another groused ,” …to compare this idiot to Jackie Robinson and the struggles Africans faced and still face is absolutely revolting. Asians never have and never will experience that kind of injustice. This idiot scores 38 points in one game and all of a sudden he’s the poster child for civil rights, the next Jordan or anyone we should spend more than 15 min. discussing? Give me a break. There’s so much more unsung talent out there. You need look no further than Kevin Durant. Dude is an awesome team player, led the NBA in scoring two years in a row as the youngest, or one of the youngest, to do so has been an All-Star, gold medalist internationally and is currently number 3 behind Lebron and Kobe as the top scorer in the league this year–not to mention his rise to success in two consecutive post-season appearances. He’s brilliant, yet gets passed over allllll the time. He’s Lin’s age by the way and has done more in the past two years then Lin will do his entire career.”
These guys miss the point . The adulation for Lin has nothing to do with his ethnicity. Some Asian -Americans may root for Lin because he is the first Asian American in a long time to make a mark in the NBA and there’s nothing wrong with that , but his following is a rainbow coalition of basketball fans. Being happy for Lin is not to take away anything from Kevin Durant or Russell Westbrook or other black players.People root for Lin because , as one fan put it ” Even if Lin is a flash in the pan, I’m loving every minute of it. I’m just tired of the ball-hog prima donnas wanting the rest ot the team to cater to them. It’s refreshing to see someone who hasn’t been given a chance to step into the limelight and be successful. No drama, just happy to play and having fun while doing it. What a breath of fresh air!”
Go Jeremy !!